As hundreds of cars race up Route 15 every day heading to the far reaches of northwestern New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, many drivers might not even take notice of the nondescript building along the route in Lake Hopatcong bearing a large sign that merely says “Restaurant.” The sign with the restaurant’s name—Gatwyns—is much smaller, and easy to miss. Nevertheless, the parking lot at Gatwyns fills to capacity most nights and there is often a line waiting to be seated at this casual, family-friendly roadhouse bar and restaurant, serving classic casual fare with some unexpected surprises on the menu.
There is a substantial list of expected starters like potato skins and nachos, but we went for a platter of six plump homemade pierogi, loaded with extra-crispy bacon bits, fried onions, melted cheese and a side of sour cream, that all could have been a meal in itself. Another filling starter was the Portuguese clams served steaming hot in a cast-iron pot filled with a garlic-heavy marinara sauce, sausage and hot cherry peppers that gave the dish just the right amount of fire.
Pizzas, calzones and stromboli can be made to order, with an impressive list of nearly two dozen options, from the unusual blue cheese and eggplant to the traditional ricotta and roasted peppers.
There are also hearty Greek, Caesar and chef salads, as well as a southwestern one made with corn, jalapeños, black olives and crunchy noodles. We chose off the daily specials and found the seared tuna salad with a large portion of fresh fish, cooked to medium, just as ordered.
The menu rambles on through many burgers, sandwiches and wraps. Our eight-ounce ribeye steak on a nice soft bun was the only disappointment of the evening. The meat was sliced so thick that it was chewy and hard to get a clean bite, although the side of thick fries was perfectly golden on the outside and hot and creamy in the middle.
There were so many options that we will have to wait until our next visit to delve into the main course entrees, but I’m already thinking that the chicken Murphy or blackened shrimp in blue cheese sauce will be my top picks.
We were pretty stuffed with hearty foods but couldn’t resist the draw of dessert. The tall layered mug of flaky crust, sweet apple pie and ice cream, topped with a mountain of whipped cream was a departure from the usual and well worth the indulgence.
Although Gatwyns’ décor may be unremarkable inside and out, the cheerful, competent service, reasonable prices (no item over $19.95), and soul-satisfying dishes make this a go-to spot for whatever you are craving.
Gatwyns, 900 Route 15 North, Lake Hopatcong, 973-663-2596. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner until 10 pm, Sunday-Thursday; and until 11pm, Friday and Saturday.Click here to leave a comment